As you could probably expect, the user interfaces (UIs) for wearables are vastly different from the UIs of phones or tablets: different ergonomics, different use cases, different strengths, and different weaknesses. Before a developer can begin creating a wearable app, they first need to understand the Android Wear user experience and how it differs from standard app user experience.

Knowing the transition from mobile app development to wearable app development and user experience could be difficult, the team at Android took the opportunity to create a new UI model. At a very high level, this new UI has two main functions: Demand and Suggest.

Android-Wear-UI-actionsDemand, the “cue card”, allows the user to use voice commands speak to Google, if the context stream does not provide an answer (we’ll get to the context stream in a bit). This communication is opened by saying “Ok Google” or tapping on the background of the watch Home screen. If you swipe up on the cue card it will show a list of suggested commands (set alarm for 7:15AM tomorrow, navigate to Amadeus Consulting, call a cab, etc.) that you can either say or tap on to execute.

On a technical level, each suggested voice command activates a specific type of intent. A developer can align these intents with their app to allow users to use voice commands and complete tasks. Essentially, the app treats a voice command the same way it treats a tap: launching the app or adding/updated a stream card.

Alright, now to the context stream, or as the Android folks like to call it, Suggest. This is a list of cards that display useful, timely information (similar to Google Now). The user swipes vertically to move from card to card. Only one card is displayed at a time with a background image to add a bit more information. For example, if you are looking at a hotel reservation the background image would be of the hotel. This allows the user to get a brief update on the information that is most vital at that moment (flight info, text, etc.). If the user wants more information, they can swipe horizontally to go a bit deeper into the app so they can see additional pages or buttons, depending on the app.

Again, at high-level, Demand and Suggest differentiate the Android Wear UI from the Android Mobile Device UI, and therefore development for apps on each platform should be intentionally developed. . If you would like more info on Android Wear, Click here. If you’re interested in developing an app for Android Wear, Let us know!